Close Control(s)   5 comments

There was some small controversy regarding a couple of controls at Saturday's national event in Amuka. Apparently a number of orienteers were disqualified for punching the wrong control, but some complained that the two adjacent controls were sited too close to each other, and their complaints were rejected. I agree with them, and I'll explain why:
Note: I wasn't at either of the controls. I'm not fit to run competitively yet, so I was walking the children's course with my daughter. I do know that it was raining and the forest was quite dark.
1. The controls (between two boulders, and between two cliffs) were sited 34m apart according to the map (taken from the ISOA website):

2. The IOF rules state: "According to Rule 19.4, controls shall not be sited within 30 metres of each other. Only when the control features are distinctly different in the terrain as well as on the map, should controls be placed closer than 60 metres."
3. What does this mean? In my opinion, it means that if one of the control features can be mistaken for the other, when running in the rain, the controls should be at least 60m apart. That is: if the gap between the two boulders is even remotely similar to a gap between two cliffs, or vice versa.
4. Last but not least, to the best of my knowledge the course planner and setter was also judge and jury in this case, which is not the best way of dealing with such complaints. We have enough experienced orienteers to set up an appeals committee as required for a ranking event, even if it was not realistic to launch an appeal properly and visit the control sites because of the rain.

I sometimes place controls closer than required by the rules, but never at a national event. I think we have a general problem with the controlling of these events, and it has to be solved.

Posted 04/05/2011 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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5 responses to “Close Control(s)

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  1. OK, so you agree with me (for different reasons), but why anonymously?

  2. Anonymous writes:I don't even get the benefit of placing controls this close. Is there anyone that thinks that the course would be severely damaged if the controls were spaced by at least 100 meters? Is this the make-or-break of a good course? IMHO this is petty planning. While a responsible orienteer should always check the control number, there is no call for tricking orienteers into disqualifying. It adds no value to the course or the sport. There is zero impact on route choice or running and God knows that the 34 meter figure is not based on exact science. Thumbs down for this course planning practice.

  3. Anonymous writes:Just don't like my name popping up in Google… I also like to keep the discussions focused on the subject at hand and not get personal with anyone. Some folks get personal when reading opinions other than their own (obviously not the case here).

  4. Anonymous2 writes:I would like to oppose just to intrigue a bit :)I think the idea in such situations is not to trick runners into disqualification, but to trick runners who are not entirely sure where they are and where they should go, into a wrong control. Like to punish them because they are not orienteering to the control, but just running to the flag they see or just following other runners. But after running to the wrong control you should realise you are in the wrong place, and if you are not sure, then you can check the number (because that's why the numbers are there) and you DO NOT have to punch at the wrong control. You can blame the course planner by tricking you into a wrong control, but you can't blame the course planner to make you punch at the wrong control. That's your own too high self-confidence to blame.The criticism of close controls would be justified if the controls wouldn't have numbers.So I think everybody should always check the control numbers, not only the responsible orienteerers. Well the responsible ones may check it twice.And by the way, those responsible ones have a disadvantage, because they will spend some extra time at each control by checking the numbers. So it's not fair against responsible ones not to check the numbers 🙂

  5. Anonymous writes:I applaud any human being that is capable of measuring distance with such high accuracy in all weather conditions, terrain types and inclinations. Even a GPS (not the military version) will throw you off easily by up to 20 meters. The same can be argued for angular accuracy When attacking a control. Placing two controls on a similar feature within such close proximity is nothing short of pettiness. Yes, there are control numbers that can be checked, but you have to be insane not to check the first semi-sensible control you see. This by itself will take a few seconds and you cannot avoid it since you have no knowledge of the controls in the vicinity of your destination. It has nothing to do with orienteering capabilities. It does not reflect on your route planning, route execution or running. It is an artificial distraction aiming for a disqualification of high speed orienteers that rely on a decent course and reasonable orienteering skills.I ask again: What's the benefit in placing the controls so close? Does it make the course better? More enjoyable? More challenging? Would we lose anything by placing the controls in a more distinctive fashion? Is numeral literacy what orienteering is all about? Can we really say that person A is a better orienteer than person B for verifying the control number on a perfectly sensible control? I argue that it is a very weak criterion for choosing a winner in an orienteering race.

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